Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement announcing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant funding to rebuild the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School on St. Croix and the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on St. Thomas:
“I am tremendously pleased to announce that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the V.I. Department of Education a grant for $140,087,014.98 for the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School on St. Croix and a grant in the amount of $324,355,822.98 for the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on St. Thomas, to demolish and replace both schools that were extensively damaged as a direct result of Hurricane Maria.
“These awards are for the prudent replacement standard which will be integral for improving our preparedness and resiliency against natural disasters. As with much of the funding released to our territory for the territory’s rebuild, I and my team worked diligently to change the provisions of the Stafford Act, which is used for rebuilding after U.S. disasters. My office made the convincing argument that the level of disaster in the Virgin Islands was exacerbated by the lack of federal funding investment in our critical infrastructure before the storms, which made the effect of the hurricanes more profound.
“The changes in law I was able to obtain allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for the duration of the recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Virgin Islands, to rebuild critical infrastructure like our schools to incorporate resilient design and features, up to the latest industry building standards and notwithstanding pre-disaster conditions in the Virgin Islands (the standard that normally applies).
“This standard was markedly different than the standard for the mainland. In this instance, both the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School and Addelita Cancryn Junior High School were evaluated for prudent replacement and found to be eligible. Work to be completed, therefore, includes the demolition of the existing facilities and their respective replacements that will incorporate current building codes and standards.
“I want to congratulate the governor and his team for holding fast and presenting the necessary case to ensure that the awards incorporated all the needs of the community along with the true damages from the storm. We continue to be proud of the work of the Office of Disaster Recovery obtaining the funding and look forward to working with them and the V.I. Department of Education to ensure the funds are fully utilized.”